Seventeen year old Cameron MacDonald from Stornoway has beaten off stiff competition to become one of the first apprentices in a new scheme run by Scotland’s largest aquaculture company.
Cameron will work at a number of different Marine Harvest salmon farms across the Western Isles in his first three months. His training will encompass a wide range of skills including boat handling, fish health, feed management and finance.
Managing Director of Marine Harvest Scotland Alan Sutherland welcomed him to the company saying: “We’re delighted to give Cameron the chance to learn all about salmon farming – an industry which provides jobs in some of the most fragile rural economies in Scotland. All too often young people in these areas are forced to move away to get work so we’re delighted to be giving them a chance to remain through this apprenticeship scheme.
“This is a great opportunity to develop a career in a successful and thriving industry. The image of fish farming as an unskilled labouring job is very out-dated – today’s fish farmers are highly skilled and Cameron and our other apprentice will gain both skills and qualifications that are greatly in demand both here and across the world.”
Cameron said: “I’m really looking forward to the challenge and I’m delighted I can learn skills in an industry which has such a strong base in the Western Isles and which will allow me to remain here.”
Aquaculture is one of Scotland’s newer industries, developed in the 1970s in the Western Highlands. But as the early pioneers reach retirement age, Marine Harvest Scotland is keen to train a new generation of fish farmers.
Cameron joins another apprentice working in the South area of salmon farms.
Marine Harvest Scotland is the largest salmon farming company in Scotland, with four hatcheries, four freshwater loch sites and 36 sea farms spread across the Western Highlands and Islands.
In 2009 the company announced a major expansion to meet increasing demand and has recently opened two new farms in the Western Isles. A new £16 million smolt rearing plant was recently opened by First Minister Alex Salmond at Lochailort, the original home of farmed salmon in Scotland.